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Death toll rises in Pakistan quake

Update - 9:15 a.m.

An official says the death toll has risen to 39 in a major earthquake in southwestern Pakistan.

The chief spokesman for the country's National Disaster Management Authority, Mirza Kamran Zia, says most of the casualties occurred when houses collapsed on people inside.

Tuesday's quake hit a remote area of Baluchistan province. Baluchistan is the country's largest province but also the least populated.

Pakistani officials put the quake size at magnitude 7.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. reported the quake as magnitude 7.8.


A major earthquake struck Tuesday in southwestern Pakistan, killing two people and sending others fleeing into the streets and praying for their lives as buildings swayed, officials said.

The province in southwest Pakistan is the country's largest but also the least populated.

At least two people were killed and five others were injured when more than two dozen houses collapsed in villages of Awaran district where the quake struck, said the district's deputy commissioner Abdur Rasheed. He said rescue teams have been dispatched to the area.

The magnitude 7.7 quake hit in the southern part of Baluchistan province, said Pakistan's chief meteorologist, Mohammed Riaz. The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. reported the quake as magnitude 7.8.

The quake struck in a remote area of Baluchistan with little population, said the head of Pakistan's Earthquake Center, Zahid Rafi. He warned of possible aftershocks.

The quake was felt in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, along the Arabian Sea. People in the city's tall office buildings rushed into the streets following the tremor, and Pakistani television showed images of lights swaying as the earth moved.

"I was working on my computer in the office. Suddenly I felt tremors. My table and computer started shaking. I thought I am feeling dizziness but soon realized they were tremors," said one Karachi resident, Mohammad Taimur.

TV footage showed residents in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, coming out of their homes and offices in a panic. One man told Pakistan's Dunya television channel that he was sitting in his office when the building started shaking.

Other residents said people started reciting verses from Islam's holy book, the Qur’an, when the quake began.

Baluchistan and neighbouring Iran are prone to earthquakes.

A magnitude 7.8, which was centred just across the border in Iran, killed at least 35 people in Pakistan last April.

In January 2011, a 7.2 magnitude quake damaged 200 mud-brick homes in a remote area of Baluchistan about 200 miles (320 kilometres) southwest of Quetta, not far from the Afghan border but caused no casualties.

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Sattar reported from Quetta, Baluchistan. Associated Press writers Asif Shahzad and Zarar Khan contributed from Islamabad.

The Canadian Press


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